On caudal prehensility and phylogenetic constraint in lizards: The influence of ancestral anatomy on function in Corucia and Furcifer

Kc. Zippel et al., On caudal prehensility and phylogenetic constraint in lizards: The influence of ancestral anatomy on function in Corucia and Furcifer, J MORPH, 239(2), 1999, pp. 143-155
Citations number
Categorie Soggetti
Experimental Biology
Journal title
ISSN journal
0362-2525 → ACNP
Year of publication
143 - 155
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We examined caudal anatomy in two species of prehensile-tailed lizards, Fur cifer pardalis and Corucia zebrata. Although both species use their tails t o grasp, each relies on a strikingly different anatomy to do so. The underl ying anatomies appear to reflect phylogenetic constraints on the consequent functional mechanisms. Caudal autotomy is presumably the ancestral conditi on for lizards and is allowed by a complex system of interdigitating muscle segments. The immediate ancestor of chameleons was nonautotomous and did n ot possess this specialized anatomy; consequently, the derived arrangement in the chameleon tail is unique among lizards. The limb functions as an art iculated linkage system with long tendinous bands originating from longitud inal muscles to directly manipulate vertebrae. Corucia is incapable of auto tomy, but it is immediately derived from autotomous ancestors. As such, it has evolved a biomechanical system for prehension quite different from that of chameleons. The caudal anatomy in Corucia is very similar to that of li zards with autotomous tails, yet distinct differences in the ancestral patt ern and its relationship to the subdermal tunic are derived. Instead of the functional unit being individual autotomy segments, the interdigitating pr ongs of muscle have become fused with an emphasis on longitudinal stacks of muscular cones. The muscles originate from the vertebral column and a subd ermal collagenous tunic and insert within the adjacent cone. However, there is remarkably little direct connection with the bones. The muscles have or igins more associated with the tunic and muscular septa. Like the axial mus culature of some fish, the tail of Corucia utilizes a design in which these collagenous elements serve as an integral skeletal component. This arrange ment provides Courcia with an elegantly designed system capable of a remark able variety of bending movements not evident in chameleon tails. (C) 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.